Synthetic fragrance. Definition? “High-performance scents composed of synthetic materials”. Sounds like something to easily ignore right? I used to think so too until I really started digging and getting my learn on. And because of what I have learned I wanted to share with you why our family said goodbye to synthetic fragrances. Oh yes. All of those perfumes, colognes, candles, and products we loved? Gone. In the garbage. And it has been the best thing we have ever done.
Like so many, I assumed that the perfumes I used, the candles I loved, the hair products that smelled divine were created for just that, right? To be used, to enjoy in your home so of COURSE, they were safe for what they were made for. Wrong. Oh, how wrong I was.
Before our modern times, perfumes and fragrances were created using natural substances like herbs, flowers, and berries. Today? Approximately 95% of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum. Crude oil. This is reported from the National Academy of Science. Sound safe to you? Me neither.
Synthetic scents or “fragrance” are actually a combined mixture of ingredients that include known carcinogens, respiratory irritants, allergens, endocrine disruptors, and neurotoxic chemicals. Incredibly unhealthy stuff, but to put it simply? There are at least 3,000 different ingredients that could be used to make up a product’s scent. And these are not just exclusive to perfumes and candles. We are talking about all products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient on the label. This includes laundry detergents, soaps, lotions, household cleaners, hair care products, air fresheners, and more.
So what does this mean for our health?
In a New York Times article from 2010 quoted Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, as stating he is “increasingly confident that autism and other ailments are, in part, the result of the impact of environmental chemicals on the brain as it is being formed.
Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey at this time was working on drafting much-needed legislation that would strengthen the Toxic Substances Control Act before his death. He was quoted stating that under existing law, of 80,000 chemicals registered in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency has required safety testing of only 200. “Our children have become test subjects,” he noted.
Alan M. Goldberg, a professor of toxicology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, stated “There are diseases that are increasing in the population that we have no known cause for. Breast cancer, prostate cancer, autism are three examples. The potential is for these diseases to be on the rise because of chemicals in the environment.”
The fact that we are finding up to over 200 harmful chemicals in a newborn’s umbilical cord blood, that asthma is now the most common chronic condition in children, and it is said that the air in our homes is now more polluted than outside due to hazardous substances found in cleaning and personal care products, furniture, flooring, and paint.
Okay, I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself. So let’s get back to simply “fragrances”. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day and changes require baby steps.
The real problem lies in a loophole within the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973. While it requires companies to list ingredients, it specifically leaves out “fragrance”. Why? In order to protect the manufacturer from having to divulge their trade secrets.
Walk into your bathroom right now and start looking at the labels on your products. Notice anything interesting? Is there an ingredient listed as “fragrance” or “parfume”? Let’s remember that “fragrance” and “parfume” is not an ingredient. It is a catch-all term that can actually include up to 3,000 additional ingredients! So that “natural” and “green” cleaner you use in your home? Have you checked the label? If it is natural and green there should be no reason to not list every single ingredient on there. “Fragrance” or “perfume” does not count.
Along with that giant loophole the FDA created with the Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973, they also state that the agency cannot legally require companies to warn about allergens in cosmetics and other products like they do with food.
Something doesn’t quite add up here…
We do not purchase any products now that list “synthetic fragrance”, “fragrance”, or “parfume” within the ingredients. Why? Because our health matters. And while it can be easy to shrug it off and think no big deal, the fact is that over time these harmful ingredients and chemicals compound. And that is when we see cit manifest itself in a myriad of ways. Allergies, asthma, chronic health issues, or worse.
A year ago we threw out every single cleaning product in our home and switched to Thieves. One plant-based product that does it all and for a fraction of the cost. We threw out air fresheners, candles, and plugins and replaced them with diffusers and essential oils. The most gorgeous, natural, and safe scents filling our home while also supporting emotions? Ummm, yes, please.
I tossed every single one of my perfumes and started making my own. Next went Jarett’s colognes, beard oils… everything. And we have never looked back.
Listen, I was a kid of the 80’s and 90’s. It was the era of packaged foods, microwavable everything, and dousing the bathrooms in Scrubbing Bubbles and Clorox Bleach. And it was easy for so long to simply just do life the way I knew it. However, I remember hearing a couple of years ago from a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer that the first thing she was told to do was reduce her toxin load. From deodorants to cleaning products – everything. And something just went off inside of me. That there is an issue here that we aren’t paying attention to. A really big, deep-rooted issue.
Fast forward to now after continual research, learning, making changes, knowing better and doing better… the peace of mind that comes with seeing what these changes have done is immeasurable. It has empowered me as a mother. And being more intentional with the products that we invite into our home and only supporting companies doing it right has been my clap back at greedy corporations and deceitful marketing.
And that is kind of awesome.
P.S. If you ever want to learn more about our journey or need someone to link arms with doing it for yourself, your family, and your home, dive in with me right here.